Meet the Asian Games Squad: Goalkeepers

A new tournament is approaching, which means it’s time for the Tavern tradition of a Meet the Squad series. For the Asian Games, we will be breaking down the men’s squad by position and then rounding off with a full post introducing the women’s squad. I (Michael) will be starting us off with the Goalkeepers – because as a young soccer player, this was my favorite position and still remains one that I love writing about.

Let’s get started with the 2 goalkeepers that will be making the trip to Indonesia for the 2018 Jakarta Palembang Asian Games: Song Bum-keun and Jo Hyeon-woo! Before we get into what each GK brings to the squad, I think we should mention what priorities brought about the selection of Song and Jo. Through the qualifying process, Kang Hyeon-mu from Pohang Steelers was the No. 1 GK for this U23 squad but he has been left home. Why did this happen? Quite simply, it seems the KFA have prioritized 2 GKs that will attract European interest should they win exemption from military duty. It seems that Kim Hak-bum and the KFA by extension have concluded that Song and Jo are most likely to become Korea’s first GKs to play in Europe.

Name: Jo Hyeon-woo (조현우)
Club: Daegu FC (Korea)
Age: 26
Height: 189cm/6’2.5″
Weight: 75kg/165lb
Senior Caps: 8

A lot has been said about Jo Hyeon-woo (also known as Cho Hyun-woo) in the past few months since the World Cup. He has become a star in Korea, was a breakout player at the World Cup, and now is one of the three overage players going to Indonesia. Jo has been incredibly charming, humble, and hilarious about his newfound fame but he also showcased his ambitions clearly to the press. His interviews saying he dreamed of playing in Europe one day, and specifically England, clearly influenced his selection to this squad. Jo will look to once again showcase his talents in the nets for the Korea U23 squad to help Korea repeat as gold medalists at the Asian Games!

What exactly will Jo bring to this squad? I’ve written about him twice in the past few months, here and here, so I think all I’ll add is that he will bring confidence and motivation to this squad. Jo knows he is in the form of his life, he believes he can make the big saves because he just shut out former World Champions Germany and kept Sweden and Mexico at bay, and will be motivated to see if he can ride a military exemption straight to Europe. If he’s in between the sticks, you can be sure that he’s ready for the pressure!

Song Bum-keun makes a save

Name: Song Bum-keun (송범근)
Club: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC (Korea)
Age: 20
Height: 194cm/6’4″
Weight: 92kg/202lb
Senior Caps: 0 (3 U23 caps)

Who is Song Bum-keun and how has he made this squad? Like I mentioned above, Song was also most likely chosen because he has received interest from European scouts in the past. After a stellar bunch of friendlies in the buildup to last summer’s FIFA U20 World Cup, there were reports that Song was attracting interest from German scouts. He went on to have a solid U20 World Cup campaign that included a great performance against a hungry Argentina squad looking for an equalizer. He had some talks with German clubs but chose to finish out his U League season with Korea University. He won the U League Championship in a squad including FC Seoul’s Cho Young-wook and turned pro with Cho, signing for Jeonbuk Hyundai. He has played well this season and has established himself as Jeonbuk’s No. 1 GK – quite a feat for a rookie. Simply, the hype is real. Song is very good, could certainly challenge Jo for this squad’s No. 1 GK position, and he is just as likely as Jo to attract European interest with a gold medal and exemption around his neck.

Song’s size is a major attribute of his that helps explain all of the hype. He’s tall and physical in goal, more so than Jo. His frame allows him to be able to come out and close down angles well but his height and wingspan also means he makes those acrobatic saves you need. He’s a vocal leader GK just like Jo and last summer’s World Cup squad had a lot of faith in his abilities. As for his weaknesses, the obvious one is that he’s 20 in a U-23 tournament. At the moment, he still can make some decision-making errors that put his defenders in trouble or lead to goals. I would say that getting to train alongside Jo could really help him improve his in-game decisions. I am not sure he is ready to be the number one at these Asian Games but he has huge potential for the future!

About Michael Welch 89 Articles
That Halfie Korean-American who loves football (I mean, soccer).


  1. hi guys…. i know your gonna do preview on the asian games roster… but id like to bring up a name… i was checking out the roster and saw hwang in beom on the roster… never heard of him… so i checked out his highlight on youtube… omg… this kid is ridiculous…his passing, field vision, imagination and creativity is remarkable… why is this kid not in europe? just my humble opinion.. maybe hes not as good as the highlights indicate? love to hear your thoughts

    • We’ll get to Hwang In-beom! Because you’re absolutely right, he should be in Europe! In fact, that is actually one of the reasons he is on this squad. Stay tuned for Meet the Midfielders!

  2. Isn’t the reason Hwan In-beom not in Europe is due to the fact that he is having military service? I don’t think it was a bad decision for him to join the military at a young age so he doesn’t have to serve in the future where the military service can potentially destroy his career. But, like Lee said or Jin Seok I don’t see why he should play the Asian games when he is already in the military lol. Can you guys actually write articles for our potential golden generation? I know you guys talked about Kim Min Jung from Australia, Lee Kang In of course, Lee Seung Woo obviously, may be Paik Seung Ho, and possibly Jeong Woo Yeong. That’s the only young players I can think off. I know many Korean soccer fans especially like Tavern writers are a bit pessimistic with the up coming talents but I think the next pipe line will be very promising.

    • One thing to consider about Hwang In-beom is that were he to win military exemption, his loan to Asan Mugunghwa(the police military club) may be cut short. I am pretty sure I have heard of reports that he could move back to Daejeon Citizen if he gets an exemption. If he wins Asian Games gold, I would not be surprised if he moved in the winter transfer window in a manner similar to Kwon Changhoon. There has been debate about why In-beom is in this team but I personally feel he has the talent to help this team win gold and that would provide a huge boost to his career.

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